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By Michelle Smith

On Thursday 19 May, Bob Poolman presented an open Q&A session on taxation, targeted at freelance editors and authors. Bob is a PICA founding trustee and author of a TAFE bookkeeping handbook. He has sat as a financial expert on boards for arts organisations and has more than 30 years experience as a tax specialist for artists and arts industry professionals.

At the beginning of the session, Bob acknowledged editors as the unsung heroes of the amazing literature that we have available. He also assured us this was not going to be Taxation 101. Throughout the presentation we heard information about starting out on the right foot as a freelancer, with specific guidance on how to avoid pitfalls along the way.

Bob talked about the importance of starting off as “what you are holding yourself out to be” as he explained the difference between registering a business name to obtain an ABN and registering for collecting GST. There was specific discussion about working for universities and government organisations versus private clients and when to use the words “Tax Invoice”. Bob even made a quarterly BAS preparation sound like an appealing way to do a business health check and review your record keeping.

The tips kept rolling as Bob discussed income tax returns. He discussed what constitutes business income or personal services income, and when to receive and spend grant money to maximise the value of the grant. The importance of solid record-keeping practices popped up again when Bob talked about deductions, and we were advised to keep a diary to log common expenses that were possible deductions. The key to claiming an expense as a deduction, according to Bob, is being able to articulate the direct relationship between the expense and earning the income.

Finally, Bob answered questions about when the income threshold for registering to collect GST applied, and how the tax brackets work for those earning a “day job” salary as well as freelance income.

It was a thoroughly informative session thanks to Bob’s wisdom and experience in taxation within the arts field.

If you paid to attend this presentation, the recording will be made available to you. If you’d like to purchase the recording, please keep an eye out for the relevant “In case you missed it” email.